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One for Jen

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We were Florida girls
That Maine water cold on our feet
We hesitated to fully immerse
But we recounted the story of Edith
Like fiction
She, with her New England grit,
Plunged in daily
Stroked across to the far shore’s tree line
Strong in the waves and current
Conquering the elements
There and back again
Safe and stronger
Her blood runs in your veins

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One on standing up

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These words today
On my way back from
A meeting in Chapel Hill
On a wall on a Chinese restaurant
Near one of my favorite bookstores

I’m not sure about the graffiti on top
Echoed on the dumpster of the gas station
Across the street
But “Kill Trump” reads clearly
Wrong-headed and unAmerican
(A label I generally despise)

Oppose Trump, yes.
March in the streets, if that’s your thing.
Protest his every action, if you must.
Hold him accountable to the constitution
He has not yet sworn to uphold
By whose authority we elected him.

But do not threaten violence.
Do not deface property.
Do no harm, and permit no harm to be done.

 

Remember Keisha Thomas
Who used her black body like a shield
Protecting a man wearing a symbol
Of oppressing black bodies
Refusing to allow violence against him
Even from – especially from – those on her side.

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Remember Amina Amdeen
Who proudly wore her hijab
As she stood up between attackers
And a giant protester carrying a sign
Declaring himself “Proud to be Deplorable”
Protected by her loud voice and her tiny body

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Take them as your example.
Protest, yes. But do it peacefully.
Disagree loudly and proudly and insistently
But do it without violence.

And if others refuse to do so,
Put yourself in harms’ way to
Insist on peace and nonviolence.

Stay on the high road.
Cling to the right way.
Scream and yell your anger.
Lament and wail your sadness.
Speak up and speak out and
Stand up tall – get in the way.

But every time
Go high when others go low.
Even when those others
Are on your “side.”
Especially then.
Stand tall. Stand up.
Every time.

Deplorable photo credit: 
http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/lt/lt_cache/thumbnail/728/img/photos/2016/11/14/59/dd/Joseph-Weidknecht.jpg

 

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Last night, I tucked my little blond boy into bed
When he woke up in the night, I laid beside him to nurse him
I kissed his soft cheeks and breathed deep his baby scent, still lingering
I gave him his blanket and his snuggle whale
And I left him safe and sleeping again

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Oh, Rehan, you could not tuck your boys into bed last night
You dressed them instead for an escape attempt
Desperate to keep them safe, desperate to get away
You carefully tied on Aylan’s little brown shoes
You slipped his red shirt over his head
The one that would make him easy to spot
In case you were separated, even for a moment
I can see you so clearly as you walked onto the boat
You holding Aylan’s right hand, Abdullah his left
Galip held close to your other side
All of you praying for safe passage, huddled close together
Praying for a miracle that did not come

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Photo Source

They found you all this morning, Rehan
Lifeless on the beach in Bodrum
As I took Benny out for donuts
Oblivious to your story
Tired from caring for my own babies
In my safe, warm, suburban home
Far from the violence and horrors you fled

The whole world saw Aylan’s picture
His tiny body shaped so like my Benny’s
Curled with his bottom a little in the air
The way little boys sometimes sleep
When they were babies only yesterday
His red shirt hiked up a little, showing his little boy belly
His little fingers so still, his little eyes shut tight, pressed in the sand

The way I left Benny sleeping last night safe
While you fled for your lives
Aylan’s shoes, the ones you tied so carefully
Were still on his tiny feet
He really could have been sleeping
Except that his dark head was not safe on a pillow
But on sand in the quiet waves lapping the beach
Where he washed up after your boat capsized

My heart breaks for his loss
For the loss of his brother
For the your loss,
For Abdullah’s heartbreak as he reclaims your bodies
My pain at the sight of your little boy
Curled up like he might be sleeping
Is nothing compared to the terror you must have felt
As you led your boys onto the boat
As you realized it was going down
As the water swept them away from you
As you took your last breath
And we are to blame
We who know what is happening
We who stand by
And we must find a better way
We must find a path to action
So there are no more little boys washing up on beaches

But today, I will cry the tears you cannot
Today, I will hold my little boy the way you held Galip
I will kiss his head like you kissed Aylan’s
Today, I mourn your boys and you and all the others
Today, I lament
Today, I grieve
You, who were lost at sea
You, whose little boys washed up on the shore
Today, I can only weep for you
And for your little boys, so like mine

aylan1 (1) aylan1
Photo Source

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One on What Love Is

They asked him to prioritize:
Which was the greatest commandment
And I doubt he even hesitated
Before he threw the gauntlet twice:
Love the Lord your God
With everything in you, he said
And the second beat the same drum
Love your neighbor as yourself
And so when he restored his dear friend
The one who denied him three times
He asked him the same question, over and over
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
And each time his friend answered yes
He repeated this charge
Feed my sheep
Feed my lambs
Feed my sheep
Greater love, he told them another time
Has no man than this
That he lays down his life for his friends
And then he gave the greatest love
Pouring out his life for his friends
And so the Way should be clear
Love first,
Love above all else
That instruction to Peter
Turns the second commandment into the first
The way to love God
Is to love others as ourselves
To feed them
To sacrifice for them,
To lay our lives down
To choose the hard path
To choose the path of sacrifice
To give the benefit of the doubt
The same way we give it to ourselves
To give grace first
To forgive before the apology
To always always turn toward mercy
Even when we want to put other things first
Truth first
Or Justice
Or Being Right
Even when we think we know a better way
Even when this way seems impossibly hard
Insurmountably steep
Even when it seems we will lose ourselves in the giving
The way is still Love
The path is still clear:
Love like he did
Because he first loved us
The greatest commandment is Love
And the second is like it
Love your neighbor
As yourself
Feed my sheep
Greater love has no man than this

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Let the light shine

May we make it welcome

Let its warmth flood

Each place long gone cold

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Let the light shine

All around each of us

Let it dry out pure

All the dank, dark mold

Let the light shine

May it grow us upward

Feeding every seed

Meant to grow and bloom

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Let the light shine

Blazing in its brilliance

May its burning glow

Fill up every room

Let the light shine

Out of each bright vessel

Let it stretch out wide

Across the open space

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Let the light shine

Its beams illuminate us

May Love’s brightness

Fall on every face

Let the light shine

Dazzling as it dances

Drawing every gaze

Toward its holy source

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Let the light shine

Onward toward the morning

As its gleaming guides us

Along the sublime course

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it gives me a pit

deep in my gut

when i hear the words of women

harshly cutting

casting judgment

drawing lines in the sand

we war with words

“just a stay at home mom”

“why have kids if you’re not going to raise them”

words that divide

words that wound

words that soak in deep

judgments uninformed

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when we refuse to engage

we lose so much

because we envy?

all that time at home

the giggles and noise and every day together

all that adult conversation

quiet and concentration

the recognition of achievement

because we regret?

choices we made

to go to school

not to go to school

choices to have one more

or a dozen

choices to only have one

choices not to have one at all

choices to volunteer for the PTA

choices to teach our kids only at home

choices to advocate

choices to let them learn for themselves

choices we are making still

some living lives not chosen at all

choices carve caverns between us

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because we don’t take time

to contemplate

to try to understand

to look beyond the surface

we cut ourselves off

from others who live out

a story different from our own

we decline – not at all gracefully

to do the hard work

of hearing each other’s stories

of holding each other’s hands

of being each other’s friends

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well, i am standing down

refusing to contribute

cynicism and suspicion

assumption and criticism

walls between us

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i choose instead

to see the best

to assume there’s more

to listen

to really hear

to firmly put aside

defensiveness

anger

pride

to reach out

to stretch hard

to love relentlessly

women who mother one

women who mother many

women who do not mother

women at home, working

women at work, working

women working it out

every day, laying their lives down

making choices deeply considered

choices different from each other

choices to put our children first

to sacrifice for them

to be our best for them

to call out their best by our example

sisters all

daughters of the king

full of destiny

full of purpose

full of life

valuable and valued

worthwhile – every one

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one on encouragement

BTS

compassion, I get
and that’s close
to encouragement – it’s hard
to balance between
noticing good
and nagging for better
it’s in the tone
in the heart
in feeling out
the heart of another

how can i pour courage in?
how can i call courage out?
how can i help courage grow?

i know you can do it
you are so brave
so smart
so kind
so perservering
you did that well
i’m proud of you
i’ll be right here
how can i help?
i knew you could do it

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